The IFAD-supported project “Network of Agriculture and Rural Development Think-tanks” (NARDT) offers such the opportunity to meet the demand for enhancing the capacity of policy think tanks from Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam and linking them for effective policy development in the sub-region.
The overall goal of the NARDT project is to improve quality of policy formulation and impacts of policy implementation in agriculture and rural development sector through the promotion of information sharing, experience exchange, joint-research and institutional capacity strengthening for the policy think-tanks, networks and dialogues in the Mekong sub-region including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The project specific objectives are:
(1) to improve the cooperation through the establishment of researcher networks including members who are able and willing to cooperate from multi-stakeholder cooperation networks of the four countries - to share policy experience and information toward a mutual sustainable agriculture and rural development;
(2) to identify regional opportunities, challenges and key issues for agriculture and rural development, and implement joint policy actions including joint policy research, formulation, implementation and advocacy; knowledge sharing; and capacity building; and to
(3) to facilitate the institutionalization of relevant innovations, hence sustaining the impacts of projects funded by IFAD or other development partners in the Mekong countries.
The expected outcomes of the project are:
· The research capacity of policy researchers in the government agencies and other non-government agencies is improved;
· The cooperation and partnership among policy research institutions and researchers, and between them and policy makers is strengthened
· Relevant actions are taken through regional cooperation and partnership to address a number of common development issues in the region.
· Successful innovations including IFAD-supported projects are institutionalized into regional and national policies and up scaling; and
· IFAD COSOPs in the Mekong countries are strengthened with inputs from joint researches by the NARDT.
The NARDT project was approved by the IFAD President for effective date of 5 July 2019 and termination date of 30 September 2023. The NARDT launching workshop was organized respectively in Laos at the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) on 25 November, at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) in Cambodia on 27 November, at the Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD) in Myanmar on 29 November and at the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) in Vietnam 20 December 2019. The NARDT First Annual Steering Committee was organized on 16 and 17 January 2020 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In accordance with IFAD policies for grant project supervision, the mission is the first supervision to NARDT project after its one year of implementation.
The objectives of the 2020 NARDT supervision mission were to:
- review the project progress and performance in line with the 2020 AWPB and the project design report; and
- identify issues and challenges affecting project implementation and propose/agree with the project management relevant follow-up actions for accelerating and enhancing project performance
After completing the mission, IFAD acknowledged good progress and results achieved by the Project so far including: (i) successful setting up regional and country-level NARDTs with good participation of relevant Government agencies, private actors and NGOs; (ii) approval of key operation documents such as operation manual, by-laws, regional and country-level area of priorities, research program, 4-year Action Plan, capacity building framework and plan, monitoring system, 2020 AWPB, and research topics; (iii) the regional and country-level NARDT is becoming more visible as the networks have started to function and engage other strategic policy partners in important policy issues; (iv) NARDT website www.nardt.org was designed and used by countries to pool information and knowledge of the network; (v) organization of some training on specific topics by country-level NARDT (Viet Nam and Myanmar); and (vi) some country-level research topics have been organized in Vietnam and Myanmar, based on these, policy briefs have been disseminated to development partners, international organizations and the government ministries.
At the same time, IFAD acknowledged that a number of activities have been prepared but cannot carry out due to impact from the COVID-19. In this context, apart from using both physical and virtual forms for different Project activities, the Project is recommended to extend one more year, re-prioritize activities and revise the AWPB accordingly. In addition, in order to achieve the Project goal and results with quality, some measures are recommended including timely submission of 2021 AWPB for issuance of IFAD no-objection, improvement of grant’s linkages to IFAD-funded country programs and projects and KM strategies to influence the policy dialogue in strategic areas development, using of guidelines and template for policy research proposals, enhancing technical support from RCB’s Regional Senior Advisor to all 4 CFPs, development of innovation lab concept and revision of results-based logical framework and report template.
Overall NARDT project implementation progress is rated moderately satisfactory by the IFAD grant supervision mission.